Landings checks carried out at Scottish factories –

Landings checks carried out at Scottish factories Published:  28 September, 2005

TWO major pelagic fish factories have been raided by officers from the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) and the police.

Around 70 officers were involved in operations at the Fresh Catch factory, in Peterhead, and at Shetland Catch, in Lerwick on Tuesday morning.

About 20 officers from the SFPA and Northern Constabulary arrived at the Shetland Catch factory at around 8.30 am.

Director of operations at the SFPA, Cephas Ralph, read out a statement in the foyer of the Shetland Catch factory, later the same morning.

It read: “The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency has been working with other agencies to investigate fish landings made to the Fresh Catch Fish Processing Factory in Peterhead and the Shetland Catch Fish Processing Factory in Lerwick.

“As a result of this work, the Scottish Executive can confirm that search warrants were executed at both sites this morning by Grampian Police, Northern Constabulary and SFPA Officers.

“The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency and Crown Office are now conducting criminal investigations into alleged offences.

“The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency is responsible for the enforcement of fisheries offences in and around Scotland. The Agency takes fishing related crimes seriously and is committed to acting on evidence to protect Scotland’s fish stocks.

It would not be appropriate for the Executive or the Crown Office to make any further comments at this stage.”

Later yesterday, the management of Shetland Catch issued a statement confirming the investigation by the SFPA.

The statement read: “The inspection is believed to be part of a wider exercise being conducted by the Agency throughout Scotland to monitor fish being landed, to check compliance with quotas.

“The SFPA is responsible for collecting information on fishing activity and catches, and has powers to enter business premises used for the treatment, storage or sale of sea fish.

“Management are co-operating fully with the inspectors.”

Shetland Catch is the largest pelagic fish processor in Europe exporting herring and mackerel to markets in the Far East, Eastern Europe and Africa.

A few years ago, the factory underwent and major extension and refurbishment programme enabling it to process up to 800 tonnes of fish a day.

The plant is a major employer in the isles, and is owned by the owner of Shetland’s fleet of pelagic trawlers and the Lerwick Port Authority.